Owl Wings Can Make Your Flight Experience Noiseless

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Noiseless Flight

Scientists from the University of Cambridge have developed a new coating for aircraft wings that is aimed at reducing noise during flights. The coating mimics the wing structure of owls that will reduce noise in aircraft, wind turbines and computers.

Initial tests have shown a substantial reduction in noise levels without any effect on aerodynamics. Wind turbines are heavily braked in order to minimise noise and an addition of a new coating will further reduce its noise and increase its speed. In order to design the coating, scientists used high resolution microscopy to examine owl feathers. It was revealed that owl wings have a downy covering which resembles a forest canopy, a flexible comb of evenlyspaced bristles along their leading edge and a porous and elastic fringe on the trailing edge. Owls use these features to hunt by stealth by swooping down and capturing their prey undetected.

The noise caused during an owl’s flight originates at the trailing edge where the air passing over the wing surface is turbulent. The structure of an owl’s wing is such that it reduces noise by smoothing the passage of air as it passes over it. This helps them in scattering the sound so that their prey can’t hear them coming. Scientists are banking on this feature to take the aviation experience to a whole new level. 

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